- TOP PLAYERSOffensePABLO S. TORRE | August 20, 2012
- TAMPA BAY buccaneersENEMY lines WHAT A RIVAL COACH SAYSJune 28, 2012
- Faces in the CrowdJune 11, 2001
But when The New York Times came out with its first computer ranking of the season last week, it rated the Seminoles not No. 1, not No. 2, not No. 3...but No. 11. The Times's No. 1 team was Washington, which was No. 3 in the AP poll. This is not the first time the Times computer has gone against the grain. In its 12 years of calculating rankings, the computer—a large mainframe in the Times offices on West 43rd Street in Manhattan—has had a different top-ranked team at the end of the season than the AP poll five times; the AP and UPI polls differed only once during the same period. Unorthodoxy can be refreshing, but still, the Times's ranking of Florida State last week came as something of a shock. No. 11?
"The computer is unimpressed with the conventional wisdom," says Michael Kagay, the news surveys editor of the Times. "If it creates controversy or starts a few fights, that's fine. Then it serves its purpose."
The Times doesn't reveal its formula for determining who's No. 1, but the computer program relies only on numbers—a team's margin of victory, the record of its opponent, that sort of thing—and eschews subjective judgments. It doesn't assign any value to what a team did last year or to whether one conference is historically tougher than another. Therefore, Washington was able to claim the No. 1 ranking after its 56-3 thumping of Kansas State, which is hardly the powerhouse that Michigan is. Say this for the Times computer: It caught on to Georgia Tech very early last season, when other polls were taking the Yellow Jackets lightly. As for the Seminoles this year, well, the computer has yet to be impressed by them. "I expect they will move up if they beat Miami and Florida at the end of the season," says Kagay.
Now, there's a prediction.
The gifted Pernell Whitaker is ready for bigger foes
You knew this was not going to be an ordinary fistfight. Jorge Paez, the contender, entered the ring in Reno attired in a floor-length lavender evening gown, under which he wore not trunks but lavender culottes. Across the way, Pernell Whitaker, the undisputed world lightweight champion, also went with lavender, though his was a more traditional ensemble of thigh-length robe and trunks. Referee Mills Lane, a flinty-eyed former marine, stared at the splendidly clad pair and sighed. "O.K., let's get it on," he growled.
And they did, last Saturday night, as Nevada cowpunchers cheered raucously for the Mexican kid in drag. His getup notwithstanding, Paez, 25, is Reno's kind of rough-and-tumble puncher. He can't fight, but he bores straight in. While Paez was aggressively ineffective, Whitaker coolly drilled him with crisp combinations. Whitaker's detractors say he runs. Not so. Against Paez he remained in range so as to "keep putting hands on him."
The tenacious Paez made each round a three-minute battle, but he always got the worst of it. In the sixth, Whitaker sliced open Paez's right eyelid with an accidental head butt. In the seventh, two hard jabs reopened the cut over Paez's eye. "Cuts are targets," said Whitaker. "When I cut my opponent, I just smile, because it gives me something extra to work on. I attack the body, and when the hands come down to protect it, I shoot for the cuts."
Whitaker's sniping widened the gashes. The ring doctor checked the wounds three times, and three times he sent Paez back to work. "They never bothered me," said Paez, now 39-4-4. "Only, sometimes, with the blood in my eyes, I couldn't see." He grinned; he had earned $200,000.